This post was written by Hatchet reporter Madelyne Ashworth.
The president of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank spoke about current events overseas and his career in international affairs on campus Thursday
Richard Haass, the former senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, came to the Elliott School of International Affairs for the event.
Elliott School Dean Michael Brown moderated the discussion, which was part of a series called “Leadership in International Affairs: Lessons Learned” that invites prominent government and policy leaders to talk about their experiences.
Here are the highlights:
1. A “failed region”
Hassas said the United States’ relationship with Israel was complex and affected by other difficulties in the region, including issues with ISIS.
Haass said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent peace talks will be productive, but acknowledged the potential for disaster and possible “spill over” conflicts in Israel, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region.
“Things have to get worse before they get worse,” he said. “These things only end when outsiders impose or things just burn out… I see this going on for some time.”
2. The U.S. is unique diplomatically
Haass said U.S. relations with both allies and adversaries are in a unique situation, as the United States has found itself in a diplomatic paradox.
He explained that “alliance relationships” need certain levels of predictability. But the nature of the alliances cause difficulties in relationships with countries in conflict with current U.S. allies, including China and Israel, he said.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult period of diplomacy in the operational sense and foreign policy in the conceptual sense,” Haass said.
3. The key to leadership is ensuring plans become reality
Leaders with innovative roles often forget that while creating policy ideas is essential, implementing those policies is even more crucial, as Haass advises future leaders to first remember their role as administrators.
“Eighty percent of life is implementation,” Haass said, adding that forgetting to ensure ideas and policies are feasible can be destructive.
“The biggest mistake of smart people is they think that coming up with the right or best answer is essentially their work, and then they can leave it to others to do it,” he said. “That is the single worst idea you will ever have.”